For millennia, nuts have remained one of the safest to get and the best sources of protein and healthy fats available to humanity. A means to crack through the tough shells protecting a nut’s meat was one of our earliest inventions, and humankind has sought to improve nutcracker design throughout the centuries.
Options today go far beyond the simple stone bowls and pestles used by our ancient ancestors, providing you with a wide variety of designs and features from which to choose. Whether it’s for cracking open hard nuts or an excellent gift, a powerful nutcracker is an investment guaranteed to make returns.
With so many different nutcrackers available, many with hundreds of reviews ranking them 5 stars, it can be challenging to sort through and find the best options for you and your family.
View The Best Nutcrackers Below
1. Texan Nut Sheller Nut Cracker
Sometimes simplicity in design is the best. The Texan Nut Sheller is a no-frills, pliers style nutcracker best known for handling bushels of pecans with ease. The well is designed to fit these medium to large nuts, and the plier’s style design means it takes very little force to crack open the shell.
The pliers design, and the fully sided well, keep fingers clear of the pincer, so there is no need to worry about pinched fingers when appropriately used. Additionally, these pecan nutcracker products are constructed of tempered steel with wide handles coated for comfort. This makes them comfortable and easy to use, even on large volumes of nuts, while providing unmatched durability.
+ Simple and easy to use
+ No pinch design
+ Tempered steel for durability
Why We Like It – If you are looking for a no-frills nutcracker designed with pecans in mind, this is the best nutcracker for the job.
2. Drosselmeyer Nutcracker
Claiming to be the first handheld nutcracker to utilize double lever action for cracking nuts, the Drosselmeyer Nutcracker tops our list as one of the best nutcrackers for collecting nuts and shells. It is built to handle the size of many types of nuts, and its unique design prevents shell pieces from scattering as you work.
The nutcracker is available in three colors: black, white, and red. It is small for compact storage, and the entire thing comes apart for simple cleaning after each use.
This model takes its name from the setting of the famous ballet, The Nutcracker, Drosselmeyer.
+ Collects shells as you go for mess-free shelling
+ Cracks nuts of various sizes
+ Available in three colors
Why We Like It – If you want an easy to use nutcracker with no messy shell bits to clean up afterward, the Drosselmeyer Nutcracker is the best nutcracker for you.
3. Winco Nut Cracker
Sometimes the most uncomplicated, basic design is the best when it comes to functionality and durability. This certainly seems to be the case with the Winco Nut Cracker. The stripped-down cracker is constructed of stainless steel for maximum durability. It has a wide range of motion, meaning it can handle nuts of various sizes from large to small. Grooves cut into the top of each side grip onto the nut shell, or the shell of your favorite seafood, and textured grips ensure you keep a steady hold on them.
After use, the entire cracker can be tossed in the dishwasher for fast, simple cleaning and maintenance.
+ Stainless steel construction for durability
+ Textured grips for a sure hold
+ Dishwasher safe
Why We Like It – If you just want a simple cracker to do the job and hold up to years of use, the Winco Nut Cracker may be the ideal pick for you.
4. Artcome Seafood Nut Cracker Set
Why buy a half dozen individual seafood or nutcrackers when you can get a set of high-quality seafood and nutcrackers? This nut cracker tool set comes with a total of six pliers design crackers ideal for both nuts and seafood as well as seven stainless steel forks. The crackers are constructed of zinc alloy for high durability, and their shape is perfect for handling a wide range of nut sizes, lobster, crab, and other seafood or shellfish items.
The entire set is dishwasher safe, making clean up simple, quick, and easy. Plus, the set is backed by a satisfaction guarantee.
+ Zinc alloy and stainless steel construction for durability
+ Set of 6 crackers and seven forks
+ Dishwasher safe
Why We Like It – The Artcome Seafood Nut Cracker Set is ideal for those who want a reasonable price on an entire set of crackers for the whole family.
5. OXO Good Grips Slim Nut and Seafood Cracker
OXO Good Grips combines durability, ease of use, and style to provide you with one of the best combination seafood and nutcracker on the market. The cracker is constructed of pure zinc for durability that will last you for years, and can cope with a bit of wear and tear. The tool itself, especially the handles, are relatively chunky for ease of use and a sure grip, yet it has a sleek design built to store away in minimal space.
The handles have a soft coating to absorb much of the pressure involved in cracking nuts or shellfish shells.
It is dishwasher safe, so clean up is a breeze no matter what it was used to open.
+ Zinc construction for durability
+ Soft grips to be easy on hands
+ Dishwasher safe
Why We Like It – While the soft-coated handles are chunky for a comfortable and sure grip, the OXO Good Grips Slim Nut and Seafood Cracker is still compact and stores away with ease.
6. Fani Walnut Cracker
This nutcracker is ideal for easy pecan cracking, shelling English walnuts, or cracking smaller and harder to crack open nuts. The saw tooth design grips onto shells to keep nuts in place as pressure is applied, and it comes with both large and small saw tooth grips for use on many types of nuts without a problem.
Soft, non-slip grips on the rounded handles give you security in your handling and comfort of use, even when cracking large amounts of nuts at a time. They are constructed of structurally reinforced aluminum alloy to last for years, and they can open 180 to be easy to use.
+ Designed to crack large and small nuts
+ Soft grips to be easy on hands
+ Opens 180 degrees
Why We Like It – The Fani Walnut Cracker is a handheld nutcracker with a plethora of 5 stars reviews for a reason. It is versatile, comfortable to use, and durable.
7. Hiware Heavy Duty Nut Cracker
The Hiware Heavy Duty Nut Cracker is constructed of die-cast aluminum for strength and durability. The cracker bowl is designed to fit most sized nuts without a problem. Its spring-loaded action makes for simple, single-handed operation. Plus, the cracker bowl keeps the meat and all shell pieces together to make the process clean and mess-free.
Smaller nuts can be opened as well using the saw-toothed trip just under the cracker bowl!
The set also contains two pics to make cleaning the meat of stubborn shell bits fast and easy.
+ Designed to crack large and small nuts
+ Cracker bowl collects shells
+ Made of die-cast aluminum for strength
+ Comes with two picks for removing stubborn bits of shell
Why We Like It – The Hiware Heavy Duty Nut Cracker set is the best nutcracker option for those who want a full nut cracking set.
8. Anwenk Heavy Duty Nut Cracker
If you want a nutcracker that can handle any size nut but requires a minimal force to use, the Anwenk Heavy Duty Nut Cracker is the model for you. It is built strong to last you for years. The nutcracker itself is made from steel secured to a sturdy wooden base. The lever has a smooth wooden handle designed to fit comfortably in your hand.
The cone used to hold each nut is threaded to be easily adjusted for each nut. The lever design dramatically reduces the force needed to crack each nut.
+ Fits all sizes of nuts
+ Steel construction on a wooden base
+ Requires less strength than other nutcrackers
Why We Like It – The lower pressure required for cracking nuts with this lever action nutcracker makes it the best nutcracker option for those with carpal tunnel syndrome or other conditions that can make other crackers challenging to manage.
9. Light ‘n’ Mighty Magic Nutcracker Tool
Those of you with smaller kitchens need to get the absolute most out of each tool in your cooking inventory. Not only does the Magic Nutcracker make short work of a wide variety of nuts, but it doubles as a citrus juicer. Plus, its compact design folds away to take up much less storage space than other manual juicers.
The Magic Nutcracker is constructed of heavy-duty steel to hold up to years of use. The handles are textured to give you a sure grip, and the inside of each cracking plate is grooved to latch onto shells for less mess.
+ Fits all sizes of nuts
+ Steel construction for durability
+ Catches shell pieces for no mess
+ Backed by a satisfaction guarantee
Why We Like It – This is your best bet for a nutcracker that can act as a multi-functioning tool. It cracks nuts without a huge mess and doubles as a citrus juicer.
10. Nutcracker Tools Inc. Steel Nutcracker
Cracking buckets of nuts and want to save your hands? Invest in a high-quality lever nutcracker such as this one. Steel teeth grip each nutshell and focus the force applied into concentrated spots for the most effective means of using the force reduction of a lever. This means you do not have to push hard at all to crack even the toughest shelled nuts, making it as easy on your hands as possible.
The entire nutcracker is constructed of reinforced steel, making it strong and durable enough to last for years.
+ Fits all sizes of nuts
+ Reinforced steel construction for durability
+ Top and bottom teeth keep nuts in place and reduce the force needed
+ The lever lowers the strength needed to crack each nut
Why We Like It – They may be larger than many other nutcracker options, but you cannot beat a lever nutcracker for ease of use.
Nutcrackers Buyer’s Guide
What should I look for in a nutcracker?
There is a fair bit of evidence methods of shelling nuts drove some of the earliest tool development in human history. Aside from blades and spears, rounded stones made to fit inside others with a cup-shaped indention to hold nuts are some of the earliest handcrafted tools found in the archaeological record. Even today, the use of two stones as a tool to crack nuts is recognized as evidence other primate species are beginning to understand the use of tools, and it is easy to see why.
Nuts are a rich source of protein and fats. Once you can get past the hurdle of opening the shells to get at the meat inside, they are an easy means of obtaining these essential macro-nutrients. The “arms race” between plants, prey species, and predatory species has always been a driving factor in new and inventive ways of doing things.
As humans have discovered ways to lessen the demands on resources our ancestors faced to survive from one day to the next, we have turned our attention to finding ways to simplify our lives further. Therefore it should be no surprise food preparation is one place we have concentrated our efforts. Mentions of early changes to nut cracking advancements date back to 500 B.C.E., and today we have several methods available.
Today there are a few different types of nut cracking tools available. The tried and true percussion style, which uses a weight to break the shell, is still an available option. A turn-screw nut cracker works great on a similar mechanic, but it slowly squeezes the shell in a vice-like mechanism instead of having a weight simply drop down onto the nut. This reduces the risk of a nut being knocked out of the nutcracker.
A v-shaped or pliers style nutcracker is pretty much what it sounds like. They are shaped like a pair of pliers, usually with a curve in each side to cradle the nut without smashing it completely as the handles are squeezed. A single lever nutcracker is similarly constructed, except a stationary base takes the place of one side of the pliers, leaving just one lever to close down over the shell.
What about the fancy nutcrackers that show up during December? Those are examples of a single lever nut cracker; however, the majority of the ones you can find on store shelves today are designed for decoration and not functionality. While you may be able to find one that can stand up to at least some thinner shelled nuts, it is inadvisable to use them as an actual nutcracker.
The same can be said of some other nut cracker options where design is the main focus of an effective nutcracker. These are generally meant more for decoration than actual use as a nut cracker tool.
There are a few different elements you need to keep top of mind when considering a nutcracker. What kind, and how many nuts are you planning to crack and shell? How much storage space do you have available, and how will your hands hold up to the level of use you plan to get from your nutcracker?
A simple v-shaped nutcracker may be sufficient if you plan to only shell a bushel or two here and there. While they are excellent for cracking and shelling nuts, they can become uncomfortable quickly. I ought to know. My grandfather owned six pecan trees years ago and would spend weeks every fall shelling bushel upon bushel of pecans with nothing more than his trusty v-shaped nutcracker and a pocket knife. Or well, all of us in the family took turns using the actual nutcracker until our hands hurt too much to do so anymore after a couple of hours, and then someone else took a turn.
No, if you own a few nut trees and plan to shell their harvest each year, a single lever or large capacity turn-screw nutcracker will serve you better over the long run. Plus, a turn-screw nutcracker works better to crack hard shelled nuts with minimal exertion.
However, if you do prefer a pliers style nutcracker, looking for a design with wider handles can make it easier and more comfortable to utilize.
Make sure to keep safety in mind as well. Another thing I can tell you from experience attempting to use Grandfather’s old v-shaped nutcracker, getting your fingertip or a sliver of palm caught between the teeth of it once the shell cracks hurt something horrible. Many newer models have a block below the teeth or a curved arm design meant to help keep fingers out of the way. Look for a pair with this feature to prevent accidental injuries.
As with most domesticated crops, nuts have grown in size over the years. Therefore you want to search to find an option that has the size and capacity to handle whatever kind of nuts you plan to shell. And, while domestication has resulted in thinner, easier to crack shells overall, cracking nuts still takes a good deal of force. Therefore, the best nutcracker options will be designed for durability as well as function. Cast aluminum, resin, and plastic hold up well enough for a year or two, but each of them has its limit.
Where to buy nut crackers?
Nut crackers are available for purchase across a wide range of stores and websites. All of the nutcrackers listed here are available on Amazon.com, all with plenty of ratings of 5 stars for a good reason. However, excellent options can also be found elsewhere.
Various hardware stores, tractor or agricultural supply stores, and big-box retail stores offer a selection of nutcracker options. Most retail stores tend to stick to the simpler nutcrackers. Agrarian supply stores tend to focus on the more heavy-duty nutcracker options best for cracking abundant harvests of nuts. Hardware stores and mega-sites like Amazon.com offer the broadest range of nutcracker options.
How to use a nutcracker tool?
The process of using a nutcracker tool varies based on the type of nutcracker. Yet, the vast majority are relatively simple.
Place the nut.
Press down on the lever until the shell cracks.
Remove the meat and shell.
Simply replace the middle step with squeezing the handles together for a v-shaped or pliers style nutcracker, tightening the screws for a turn-screw nutcracker, or drop the weight for a percussion style nutcracker.
Is a nut cracker worth it?
Considering it is possible to crack nuts with your bare hands if you know how to do it, why would you waste money on a nut cracker? Is it worth the purchase?
While yes, cracking nuts barehanded is possible, it is also quite difficult and tiring. Personally, I would suggest saving it for a party trick rather than trying to develop the skill with a mind toward shelling your own nuts, especially if you have a nut tree or two. A good, high-quality nutcracker is a good investment for those who enjoy several types of nuts, those who have nut trees of their own, or those who simply prefer their nuts as fresh as possible. The best nutcracker models can handle a variety of species’ nuts from English walnuts to macadamias, saving time, money, and your hands over the years.
To put it in a nut shell…
Today’s market offers a vast assortment of options for cracking nuts of all types. These different nutcrackers take several different shapes, are constructed of different materials, and have vastly differing quality levels. No matter the type, construction, or quality of the nutcracker in question, reviews can often be mixed, making the decision on which option is the best one more difficult.
The top nutcrackers should be easy to use and clean, durable, comfortable, and safe to utilize, and capable of cracking a variety of different nuts from soft shelled species to tougher ones. It should also be designed to crack as many different sized nuts as well, from small pistachios and pine nuts to the larger walnuts and Brazil nuts. Nutcrackers built with a means of containing the shell fragments can be appealing to many. For others, single lever designs braced on a counter or table, and requiring far less force to work are preferred.